Naperville Teen Collecting Used Shoes To Help Those In Need

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A Naperville teen, Lucy Westlake, has launched a city-wide used shoe drive in hopes of providing safe water to those in need.

When Lucy Westlake isn’t running for Naperville North High School the sophomore can usually be found outside in nature. At 16, Lucy holds a world record for mountain climbing.

Her passion for reaching mountain peaks led her to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The trip just wasn’t about climbing, but also connecting with a pen pal she shared letters with for over 10 years.

What’s The First Thing Lucy Said To Her Pen Pal?

“I think I just hugged her,” said Lucy. “I can’t remember any words, but I just remember seeing her. I had seen pictures, but I just went up and hugged her.”

Giving Clean Water To Those In Need

Faith, Lucy’s pen pal, had written letters to her friend explaining that her village didn’t have clean water to drink. So Lucy and her family brought a water filtration system to Faith’s community.

“It was life changing, not only for us but life changing for the community”, said Amy Westlake, Lucy’s mother. “Just by us simply bringing this system, 2,000 more people a day have access to safe water.”

Used Shoe Drive

Wanting to do more, Lucy is partnering with WaterStep, a nonprofit that works to save lives with safe water, for a shoe drive. The hope is to collect as many used shoes as possible in the month of March to then re-sell to vendors.

They’ll then use the money to buy water filtration systems from WaterStep. From the start to installing one costs around $5,000. Each shoebox is worth $250 and the goal is to collect 200 of them, which would mean 50,000 people could potentially have safe water to drink.

Where Can You Drop Off You Used Shoes?

Thankfully Lucy already has a head start on her goal with around 12 boxes worth of shoes already collected. Naperville North will be holding their shoe drive from March 16-20.

“Athletic footwear gives us the most money. WaterStep sells it to the exporters [and] they pay about $5 per the athletic footwear, but we’ll take any shoes,” said Lucy.

To see where you can drop off some of your old shoes visit, which will direct you to local retailers participating in the program.

Giving Is In Lucy’s Heart

Lucy will go back to Africa in June later this year to install the water filters. But if you think that’s enough for her, well you just don’t know how much giving back is in this girl’s heart.

“I ultimately want to go back senior year, I’m hoping to graduate a semester early, and go back to put in more water filters and just get more projects started over there because there’s no limit on how much you can help,” said Lucy.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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